I was just thinking about growing up in Fresno. As with every generation even I compare my upbringing to how kids are being brought up these days. I remember my parents and grandparents doing the same thing to me and my friends. At this moment I can’t remember much about what they said besides the fact that we kids were spoiled and we have so much more than they had. The usual rant from grandparents seems to be ‘when I was a kid I used to walk to school, up hill in the snow, both ways’. My parents would say ‘you kids have all the best toys, video games’ and whatever else we had that they didn’t. Now, I say these kids don’t get to think about a damn thing. They watch the TV for their opinions, they download porn to form their ideas about sex and are interrupted in the guise of being protected by their pansy ass parents from experiencing mistakes they might have a chance to learn from. There still might be a difference between the have and have-nots since some kids don’t have computers, video games or parents that want them to lie around the house. Some kids still get to have adventures in their neighborhood.

Compare how kids play baseball today in contrast to how we used to play baseball. Today kids get a RIDE to a nice green baseball diamond with a backstop, bat and ball and everything. If mom or dad don’t give them a ride so what, they just turn on EA Sports baseball on the Xbox. This is what it took for us to play baseball: we had to each go digging in each other’s garages for something that resembled a bat. Sometimes we had a wiffle bat that wasn’t too damaged from being run over by cars or our bikes or chewed up by the dog. Otherwise a broom handle worked just as well as long as we had a couple so moms wouldn’t notice. Once we ‘modified’ the broom mom couldn’t use it again. IF we found a bat the next problem was finding a ball. These were difficult to come by since we constantly lost them by hitting them in trees, in sewers or to total destruction. We knew better than to walk inside and ask for a couple bucks so we could WALK down to the store to buy a ball so we learned that a sponge wrapped in tape did just fine. Again, we ‘borrowed’ from mom’s collection of sponges and went back to the garage to find a good sort of tape that could take a beating. Electrical tape worked the best but we had more ducted tape lying around so we usually ended up playing with an awkward gray ball-like object. The ball would sometimes rip and would require more tape so after a few games the ball got way too big and heavy which required some backup sponges for new baseballs. So now we had the ball and bat. We didn’t even think about getting mitts for everyone and we drew the bases out on the street in chalk which needed to be retraced often. Play ball!! And watch out for that car!!!

Let’s compare how the kids today play street hockey. Today kids get their parents to buy hockey sticks, roller blades, and again drive them to a nice park where there is a rink just for street hockey with goals on either side. WE never even thought about playing street hockey. Do you know what a hockey stick costs?? Neither did we but we knew it was more than the couple bucks we couldn’t get from our parents for a baseball. We did play street hockey a few times though. Here is how it went:

One day when the street was littered with garbage anticipating one of those big garbage pickups, we saw a tree lying in the street. Bored out of our minds as we sat on a curb outside our homes and while waiting for a good idea to come to us we envisioned (more like a hallucination) hockey sticks in a that tree. It was a short discussion because we never had the opportunity to play hockey before. Off to the garage to find the saw that would craft our hockey sticks. The sticks turned out to be all awkward but since we made them ourselves there was no use letting that stop a good game of hockey. As usual another problem was the ball or in this case the puck. At first we did try a racket ball but the damn thing was way too bouncy and couldn’t be reasonably controlled. We needed something different and I am sure it was my brother who had a perfectly good pack of bubble tape. For those kids out there who don’t know, bubble tape looks like a hockey puck. My brother distributed all the bubble tape to the players and fans (sometimes other neighborhood kids would show up to watch). We then took the container put some rocks in it and taped the edges all the way around the side with electrical tape. We used the garbage cans for goal posts; couple from one house and a couple from another. We didn’t know what rollerblades were and roller-skates were out of the question. Nikes worked just fine. The games didn’t last long for two reasons; we ended up breaking the puck somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour and most of the sticks weren’t long enough so we got tired of playing the entire game running around constantly bent over.

The difference between our parents and us is I think our parents envied us for having the things we had and what seemed to them to be a more convenient life. I, like most people my age don’t envy the kids these days. I rather feel sorry for them. We had the sort of freedom that caused us to see everything differently. We didn’t make due with what we had; we made what we had better and used it in ways only kids could imagine possible.

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